Flashback: The Clash Rock Against Racism in 1978

The Clash – White Riot Live (1978 Victoria Park London)

Taken from the film Rude Boy


In August 1976 a heavily intoxicated Eric Clapton blurted out some very unfortunate remarks onstage at the Birmingham Odeon in England. “England is overcrowded,” he said. “I think we should send them all back.” He went on to add that England was in danger of becoming a “black colony.” Around the same time, David Bowie caused an even greater uproar when he shared some surprising political beliefs. “I believe very strongly in fascism,” he told Playboy. “The only way we can speed up the sort of liberalism that’s hanging foul in the air. . .is a right-wing totally dictatorial tyranny. . .Rock stars are fascists, too. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars.”

50 Things You Never Knew About The Clash

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



1.  37 years ago today, on April 8 1977, The Clash released their self-titled debut album, later going on to change the face of British guitar music forever. Here’s 50 geeky facts about the Londoners, starting with this little-known nugget of information – their first ever concert was in summer 1976, supporting The Sex Pistols.


2. Most of the debut LP The Clash was written on the 18th floor of a council high rise on London’s Harrow Rd. The flat was owned by Mick’s grandmother, who regularly turned up at Clash gigs.


3.  During the filming for the ‘Bankrobber’ video, Clash roadies Baker and Johnny Green faked a bank job in South London. They were stopped and questioned by the police, who thought they were the real thing.


4. ‘Train In Vain’ isn’t listed on the sleeve credits for ‘London Calling’ because it was originally going to be a flexi give-away with NME. Unfortunately, the idea proved too expensive and the track went on the LP instead.


5. ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ was written by Mick about American singer Ellen Foley, who sang the backing vocals on Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell LP.


6. Joe Strummer once directed his own movie Cops & Robbers, staring Mick, Paul, and Clash photographer Pennie Smith.


7. The cover of the ‘London Calling’ album is a rip-off of Elvis’ ‘Rock And Roll’ LP from ’56 and was taken by our own Pennie Smith.


8.  ‘Rock The Casbah’ was the very first rock video that starred an armadillo, zoo fans.


9. The spread-’em-against-the-wall pose on the cover of ‘White Riot’ was borrowed from a dub LP called ‘State Of Emergency’ by Joe Gibbs And The Professionals


10.  They also sold their double and triple album sets ‘London Calling’ and ‘Sandinista!’ for around the price of a single album (£5.99). This meant that they had to forfeit all of their performance royalties on its first 200, 000 sales. They were constantly in debt to CBS and only started to break even around 1982.


11. The Clash II went on a busking tour to promote the “Cut The Crap” LP. They weren’t any good.


12.Mick Jones’ band ‘London SS’ was originally a hard rock group which was revamped and evolved to become ‘The Clash’.


13. Whilst at public school, the young Joe Strummer was an avid stamp collector.


14. In 1977 when The Clash were signed to CBS some people believed they had ‘sold out’ to the establishment, particularly Mark Perry, founder of the leading London punk periodical, Sniffin’ Glue. He said: “Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS.”


15. Sandy Pearlman, producer of “Give ‘Em Enough Rope”, so disliked Joe Strummer’s voice that he mixed it more quietly than the drums throughout the album.


16.  Joe Strummer once said his favourite record was Van Morrison’s “Gloria’.


17. Drummer Nicky Headon was nicknamed ‘Topper’ by Simonon, because he thought he resembled the Topper comic book character ‘Mickey the Monkey’.


18. The Spanish lines in ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ and ‘Spanish Bombs’ are not grammatically correct.


19. Joe Strummer played a bearded dishwasher in the mercenary army who gets thrown into a river in Alex Cox’s Walker. No-one has ever seen said film.


20.The Clash temporarily became The Lash when they became studio players for vice queen Janie Jones. They appear on her single, “House of the Ju Ju Queen”.


21.  Joe has run both the London and Paris marathons. Slowly.


22. British Telecom wanted to use ‘London Calling’ for an advertising campaign. They were told to bog off.


23. The Clash were the first (and last?) white band to have their likeness painted onto the wall of Lee Perry’s famous Black Ark recording studios in Jamaica.